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Epic Games' Fortnite will be the developer's first Unreal Engine 4 game

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

New gameplay details on Epic Games' Fortnite revealed at Comic-Con.

The creators of Gears of War and the Unreal Engine came to Comic-Con today to finally talk about their next game, Fortnite, a "a co-op sandbox survival game," according to producer Tanya Jessen. During the panel, the company also revealed the game would be PC exclusive and the first title from Epic to use its next-gen Unreal Engine 4 technology.

Jessen says the new property is about exploration, scavenging gear, building fortified structures and fighting waves of encroaching monsters hellbent on killing you and your friends.

"Building is really the core of the game," Jessen says. "Everything you find allows you to build and improve your structure." Epic says the game will have "a lot of loot" buried within.

Epic demonstrated playable prototypes of the game running on Unreal Engine 3, showing multiple ways players will be able to upgrade weapons — in this case a crossbow that can be outfitted with explosives and electric shocks — and offered glimpses of the various enemy types and building structures players will see in Fortnite.

Design director Cliff Bleszinski revealed during the panel that Fortnite would be the first game to take advantage of the company's Unreal Engine 4 tech.

"This is a PC designed game, shipping exclusively on the PC," Bleszinski said. Epic showed screen shots of Fortnite running on the next-gen Unreal Engine, showing off gorgeous lighting and modeling advances that accentuate the cartoonish style of the game.

Originally, Bleszinski said, Fortnite followed a more traditional post-apocalyptic, The Road-inspired aesthetic, but the team found the style "depressing." Designer Pete Ellis showed the evolution of one of the game's zombie-like enemy types, The Husk, and its transition from scary, wiry undead to its current more cartoonish style. The panel also revealed the name of the previously revealed enemy, the squat, teleporting Troll, which Bleszisnki described as "a manifestation of everything on the Internet that I hate."

Epic touched on the building gameplay aspect of the game, showing Fortnite gameplay running on UE4, showing a deep level of structure building that lets players build and edit each wall with a 3x3 grid, lay down stairs, roofs, and windows, sculpting them to suit a particular need — sniping from a split seam in the roof, for example. In between building segments, Epic showed a Fortnite character using an axe and sledgehammer to break down walls to reclaim materials, including wood, tile and brick.

Bleszinski and Jessen implied that Fortnite would continue to evolve even after its release, with updates that could drastically change gameplay.

Asked by a fan whether Fortnite would allow for elaborate, Home Alone-style traps that players could build to fend off enemies, Bleszinski said "I don't think we'll have any Rube Goldberg type stuff in the first version, but it's kind of a no-brainer later."

"We're just going to keep adding onto it," Jessen said, implying that Fortnite would continue evolve its systems a la Minecraft.

Asked whether the game would be free-to-play, Epic dodged, saying that it wasn't talking about its pricing plans just yet. No release date for the game was offered, with Jessen saying "We're trying to put the game out as soon as we can."

We'll have more on Fortnite following our interview with Cliff Bleszinski and Tanya Jessen at Comic-Con later this week.

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